WEST PALM BEACH — Crime didn’t pay for a former Palm Beach County clerk who was charged on Thursday with embezzling over $27,000, mostly from fees that strippers pay to receive identification cards.
Anita Pedemey of suburban West Palm Beach was arrested and taken to Palm Beach County Jail Thursday morning. It’s been a long journey to this point, from her tearful confession to supervisors in November through the audit that exposed the full extent of her illicit activities in March.
Pedemey, 54, worked in the Public Safety Department, and found strippers to be an easy target for skimming funds since they typically paid their $75 photo ID fees in cash. To a lesser degree, she also targeted Palm Beach County’s victim-services fund, which was also largely made up of cash contributed by criminals as an alternative to performing community service.
So much for honor among thieves.
“It’s usually best not to deal in cash,” confirmed Inspector General John Carey after the March audit, indicating that—because of the difficulty in tracking cash—stolen sums might even be “much more” than is apparent.
Things started to go south for the crooked clerk in mid-2015 when a co-worker noticed that the money for IDs she witnessed being purchased on Pedemey’s watch didn’t show up on the next day’s reports. Supervisors were soon able to confirm the same sorts of issues.
Upon her eventual confession, Pedemey told her bosses that she “knew it was wrong” and “she was sorry” and—by way of defense—offered that her husband was “spending a lot of money at Home Depot.”
She expanded on her reasons further with the State Attorney’s office, explaining that, “There were a lot of bills, things happening. My husband always wants things fixed. The boys needed help and there was a lot of pressure on me.”
Pedemey finally resigned on December 8th, understanding full well that the county was likely not done with her.
She was charged with two counts of grand theft in excess of $20,000, one count of an organized scheme to defraud between $20,000 and $50,000 and 10 counts of official misconduct, felonies all.
Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Dina Keever-Agrama set bail at $40,000, but added the stipulation that Pedemey must demonstrate that any bail money offered did not come from her embezzlement. She successfully did so and was released on Thursday evening.
Pedemey earned $54,000 annually in her clerk position, and stood to gain much more than she was able to steal simply by keeping her job.
The program requiring the strippers to purchase IDs in the first place is designed to keep underage girls from gaining employment in strip clubs. The greatest victim of Pedemey’s light-fingered approach to her job may be the strippers themselves who—as a result of the clerk’s theft—will no longer be able to use cash to purchase their IDs per new Public Safety Department procedures.
If they need someplace to take their money, though, there’s always Home Depot!